Everyone is thinking about corn dogs today.
Ok, maybe that is an overstatement. But if you tuned into Super Bowl LVIII, amid the duality of joy and heartbreak and the Kelce-Taylor-universe, you might have heard a mention about corn dogs.
I mean, they’re great.
And you either already know what I’m talking about, or I have your attention.
When the Kansas City Chiefs lined up at the end of the game to score the winning touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers, it was the exact same play formation they had used a year earlier to score a touchdown to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in 2023’s championship game.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid calls the play formation ... you guessed it ... “Corn Dog.”
The name itself isn’t important unless you’re looking for some deep-seated meaning in a man who looks like he hails from Wisconsin and spent a lot of time at state fairs (He actually grew up in LA). But the purpose of the play, the design itself, is meant to take advantage of legend-in-the-making Patrick Mahomes’ unparalleled talents. To put him in charge, assess the situation thoroughly, and give him control of the outcome.
I was reflecting on Mahomes’ ethos as I recalled senior reporter-at-large Vincent Ryan’s story about modern-day activist investors. Long past the days of Gordon Gekko-like Wall Street predators, activist investing is now viewed as a natural part of the investing landscape, according to AlixPartners’ David Garfield. And the number of activist engagements is at peak global levels.
That might make a CFO ill at ease, especially if their company has struggled in recent times. What kinds of vulnerabilities might catch an activist’s attention? And what can a CFO do about it?
As Ryan writes, finance chiefs have to become their own activists to properly prepare for the kinds of scenarios that actual investing activists might employ and the tools at their disposal to leverage a company’s vulnerabilities. And if the CFO waits for this to happen without corn dog-level preparation, it’s already too late.
Before this moment of reckoning arrives, as Garfield says, a CFO “should help the CEO and board examine the company through an ‘activist’s lens ... If I were an activist, how would I assess our company in terms of value creation? What improvements do we need to make? How quickly can we make them?”
In other words, the CFO needs to be the quarterback, understanding all the scenarios in play, to set up and execute the proper strategies to keep the wolves outside the house. Monday morning quarterbacking won’t cut it anymore.
Andy Reid certainly knows this. He loves corn dogs.